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Home Tech CEO Weekends: Apple Buys ‘Embark’ Yet Another Map App

CEO Weekends: Apple Buys ‘Embark’ Yet Another Map App

by Caroline Vutagwa
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maps

Embark Inc, yet another mapping company cracked by Apple Inc. It is a small Silicon Valley start-up that builds free transit apps to help Smartphone users navigate public transportation.

Well, how much Apple paid for the small company is not known, however it has been speculated that Apple plans to directly integrate Embark’s technology into Apple Maps.

Founded in 2011, Embark builds apps for mobile devices powered by Android and Apple’s iOS with information about transit systems in about half a dozen U.S. cities such as New York, San Francisco and Chicago. Its iOS apps are still available for download, but its Android apps are not.

An Apple spokeswoman confirmed the deal saying: “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.” The company didn’t have any comment on the availability of the Android apps.

Apple once said that it would offer public transit features, like predicting when a train will arrive consequently, the company launched Apple Maps last year.

The App was heavy enough because of the data they had to feed into the system, so small companies like Embark would have made their work easier as they just direct users to other Apps for those features.

Embark’s investors include Silicon Valley seed funds Y Combinator, SV Angel and BMW Group, which has a venture arm that invests in mobile services.

Embark claimed to have more than half a million users of its apps when BMW invested last year November, however, the company faces a host of competitors, including apps like iTransitBuddy and Rover, many of which Apple Maps promotes to users too.

The company had struggled to nail down a business plan, a factor that likely contributed to its desire to sell, one of the people familiar with the deal said.

It bears mentioning that Google Maps already integrates hoards of public transit data to help users plan their trips; it is unclear whether Apple is just trying to get up to par or wants to try something new.

The fight between Apple and Google to build the best maps for mobile will not stop as the two companies have not acquiring small companies to help them in this area, and this last purchase proves that it may not be the last one. Look at how the two companies have been busy out smarting one another in map-app improving purchases.

Google:

3D mapping and data: Keyhole (2004)

Digital mapping: Where 2 Technologies (2004)

European maps: Endoxon (2006)

Aerial photography: ImageAmerica (2007)

Traffic: Waze (2013)

Apple:

Mapping data: Placebase (2009)

3D mapping: Poly9, C3 Technologies  (2010, 2011)

Indoor location: WifiSlam (2013)

Transit data: Locationary, HopStop, Embark (2013)

 


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